Monday, January 23, 2012

Middlemarch Ch. 1-5 by George Eliot

What struck me first about Middlemarch was how different of a story it was from Herland. Although a work of fiction, Herland read more like a cultural study, a lesson or exchange of ideas about two cultures. Middlemarch, although it has discussion of Puritan philosophy, lends itself more towards (what I would call) modern fiction. In Herland, the “action” of the story was interrupted by the discussions of culture – journals entry style writing. Middlemarch has a more progressive plot line focusing more on the relationships of the people and how they affect the main character – storytelling style writing. The difference in gender of the main characters/narrators could attribute to the difference in style, although there is no clear gender of the narrator of Middlemarch.

A similarity between the two lives in the strong-willed nature of the female characters. The women in Herland and Dorothea share characteristics of strong, independent women who have the ability to think on a higher level than expected. This demonstrates to me the common attitude towards women of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. From the fact that George Eliot wrote around the middle of the of the nineteenth century and that Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote in the early twentieth century, I deduce that not much change over that period of time concerning the idea of the education of women.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

There were two aspects of the story which struck me most: the voice of the main character and the knowledge of the book.

As a female writer, I know how difficult it can be to write from a male point of view. Most of the time, male characters written by female authors have a tendency to be either thoroughly romanticized or masculinely generalized. Although Mrs. Gilman created these types of men in her story, Jeff being the romanticized male and Terry being the overly masculine, the main character of Van stayed somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. This is important because, as the narrator of the story, Van needs to have a certain amount of credibility in order for the reader to believe that everything he tells us about this country full of women – their lifestyle, their religion, their virgin births – really exists in some undisclosed location.

I was impressed with the amount of knowledge that Mrs. Gilman fit into the story. The amount of philosophy, agriculture and religion discussed within the pages of the book serves two purposes: first, it lends credence to the idea that such a world could exist by making it logical; secondly, it informs the reader as to the higher learning of the author. When I think of education for women in the early 1900s, I think of reading and writing, possibly a foreign language, domestic schooling and some kind of liberal art specialty (musical instrument or drawing). One does not think of history, philosophy or religion, which were considered manly professions.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Reading Responses

J--You should have one reading response of 200-250 words for every short story we read (later, we will be doing poetry). You need to start by writing a response for "The Wonderful Old Gentleman" and "Song of the Shirt, 1941." Just click on "new post" and start your response, after you post the title of the story in the title box.

Kathryn PR